DC bands and statehood advocates are in Austin for this year’s South by Southwest music festival and conference.
Tonight, the DC statehood advocacy group DC Vote is participating in the event “SXSW A Go-Go” with go-go performances and calls to make DC statehood a national issue. “We hope to engage with some of the crowd that’s not from DC so we can get the conversation outside the Beltway,” says Kelsye Adams, DC Vote’s program director. Though DC statehood regularly garners local attention, not all Americans are familiar with the cause, says Adams: “We know from conversations that we’ve already had since we’ve been here [in Austin], most people are unaware that DC doesn’t have a vote in our nation’s Congress.”
Hosted by Allive Entertainment and 202Creates, the event also aims to bring attention to go-go music; it’s the official music of DC, but it’s still not recognized as a distinct genre on music streaming platforms like Spotify or Apple Music. By bringing go-go music to SXSW, which regularly draws in huge crowds (in-person and online attendance totaled over 278,000 people in 2022), Adams hopes to change that.
Tonight’s event will feature performances from DC go-go performers like House Band Crank Caviar, Big G, and Weensey. Attendees can also paint on a mural featuring DC landscapes; the finished mural will go on display back at the DC Creative Affairs Office.
For Adams, art and politics are deeply intertwined. “I utilize artistic activism at the intersection of politics and culture,” she says. “If you want to engage a political conversation with the younger generations, the way to influence them and get them involved is through art.”
Adams also hopes that DC Vote’s SXSW appearance propels more non-locals to join the statehood push. “We’re not asking for statehood anymore; we’re demanding it,” Adams says. “I hope people at this event also take this demand as one of their own and, as constituents of their states, that they go to their elected officials and advocate on our behalf for us to have the right to vote.”
A previous version of this story stated the event was hosted by DC Vote; that’s incorrect, the hosts of “SXSW A Go-Go” were Allive Entertainment and 202Creates.